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Johnson’s Big Night Carries West Potomac

Junior rushes for 236 yards, four touchdowns for first-place Wolverines

West Potomac running back Brandon Johnson sat on the bench and started drinking water after his 52-yard touchdown run gave the Wolverines a three-score lead against Woodson in the third quarter. Johnson’s run was so nifty, however, assistant coach Chuck McCullough felt the junior deserved to upgrade his means of hydration.

Johnson vaulted over a Woodson defender before racing into the end zone, part of a 236-yard, four-touchdown effort for the running back, who led West Potomac to a 50-36 homecoming victory on Oct. 8.

"You deserve Gatorade," McCullough said as he approached Johnson on the sideline, handing him a bottle of blue electrolyte replenishment. "What the hell was that? Where did that come from?"

According to Johnson, the play started ominously as quarterback Nik Dimitrijevic called the wrong play at the line of scrimmage. But the running back and his offensive line made the best of it.

"I just saw the hole," Johnson said. "I cut back and then I just had to do what I had to do."

West Potomac head coach Eric Henderson praised Johnson and credited the Wolverines offensive line for the team’s big day on the ground.

"He just got better as the game wore on," said Henderson, who coached in his second game after suffering a heart attack and missing the team’s Sept. 24 contest at West Springfield. "Those last couple of touchdowns (were great). At the same time, without those guys up front (we wouldn’t have had the same success). W.T. Woodson had seven guys in the box (against West Potomac’s spread offense) and we’re still kind of squirting through and making honest yardage."

Sophomore Dennis Hunter (6 feet 3, 300 pounds) played left tackle for West Potomac, senior Dan Carriker (6-4, 300) was the left guard, junior Tommy Friederich (5-10, 240) was the center, junior Agyenim Agyei-Boateng (6-0, 210) was the right guard and senior Jesse Fico (6-5, 260) was the right tackle.

Johnson was the star of an offensive shootout, scoring on runs of 20, 55, 52 and 22 yards. West Potomac led 19-0 and kept scoring points but couldn’t shake the resilient Cavaliers. Woodson pulled to within five early in the third quarter when an 8-yard run by Jon Stokes cut the Cavalier deficit to 26-21. But West Potomac responded with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Dimitrijevic to Jalen Dawson and Johnson’s stylish run to take a 40-21 lead. The Wolverines led by at least 12 the rest of the way.

West Potomac had nine plays of at least 20 yards and forced six Woodson turnovers.

"I don’t even know how many turnovers we had, how many big plays that we gave up and that’s what we try and do — limit our turnovers and prevent the big play and we did neither of those," said Woodson head coach Trey Taylor, whose Cavaliers fell to 2-4. "That being said, the score was much closer than I would expect it to be for playing like we did. But until we eliminate mistakes, we’re going to lose football games."

Dimitrijevic threw two touchdown passes and ran for another. Dawson Daryl Copeland each scored a receiving touchdown and tallied more than 100 yards.

The win improved West Potomac’s record to 4-2, 3-0 in the Patriot District, good for a first-place tie with Lake Braddock. After the game, Henderson said the Wolverines broke down the season into a three-act play. Games 1-3 were for getting used to their offense — quarterback Dimitrijevic is a first-year full-time varsity starter — while the team’s defense carried the load. West Potomac went 1-2, beating Mount Vernon and losing to Westfield and Chantilly.

Henderson said he felt the Wolverines were evenly matched with opponents 4-6 (West Springfield, South County and Woodson) and they hoped to jump out to a lead in the district during the three-game stretch. West Potomac did just that.

The final act involves the Wolverines’ final four regular season games (Lee, T.C. Williams, Lake Braddock, Annandale). Henderson said the team hopes to remain competitive while working to secure a playoff berth and battle for the district title. Next up for West Potomac is a road game against Lee at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 15.

Last season, the Wolverines won their opener against Mount Vernon but things quickly went south. Losses against Westfield and Chantilly snowballed and the team finished 2-8. This year, West Potomac has so far found a way to turn things around.

"These kids are much more resilient — nothing against last year’s kids — but they’re just much more resilient than last year’s kids," Henderson said. "These kids have more sweat equity in the program. They did a lot more in the offseason than last year (and) you don’t want to let down because you put so much into it. It’s just a different tone to the team."